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EMF Studies

03 January 2013

Switzerland Decides in Favor of Prolonging the Moratorium on Cultivation of Genetically Modified Plants until end 2017

Philippe Roch, author of the article, in his garden in Russin,
canton Geneva, with his sheep, of the race "roux du
 Valais" which he is helping to preserve.
On 12 December 2012, the Swiss State Council decided in favor of prolonging the moratorium on cultivation of genetically modified (GMO) plants until the end of 2017. The moratorium was established in 2005 and had already been extended in 2010 for two years. Switzerland thus considers that GMO plants are of no interest to Swiss agriculture. The country wishes, on the contrary, to develop a durable agriculture of quality. Moreover, the cultivation of GMO plants on Swiss soil, emphasizes StopOGM “would generate supplementary costs that no one wishes to assume.” (Ref : InfoOGM)

Read this article by Philippe Roch, former Director of the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment (1992 to 2005).

Yes, it is reasonable to be wary of GMOs and their devotees
by Philippe Roch, Le Temps, 25 September 2012. (Translated from French) See Dr. Roch’s site (in French) : www.pirassay.com .

The end of work on National Research Program 59 on GMOs was celebrated with a media frenzy before research reports were even available, with the slogan: “GMOs present no danger for health or the environment”, or “Science gives its blessing to GMOs”. The absolute nature of this affirmation is incompatible with the spirit of science; it reveals an ideological position. A scientist always has a doubt, and he does not draw general preemptory conclusions from a few ad-hoc studies, especially in a field as complex as genetics.

Many observations suggest or demonstrate the risks of GMOs for health and the environment. Ninety per cent of GMOs (or transgenic plants) in the world comprise two categories of effects: resistance to herbicides and the production by the plant of Bt toxins for fighting insect pests. Here are a few examples of the dangers that the use of GMOs present **:

One of the greatest developments in integrated agriculture is to have reduced use of pesticides to the required minimum, applied only when pests multiply. GMOs constitute a step backwards, since the pesticides produced by the plant are active all the time; thus, the cultivation of transgenic Bt plants favors resistance to targeted insects, and sometimes the proliferation of secondary insect pests, competing with the principal pest. The permanent spreading of toxins by transgenic Bt plants also damages non-targeted insects. We have noticed in Switzerland and in Germany harmful effects of the Bt toxin on lady-bug larvae, and of the pollen of transgenic corn on caterpillars of the peacock day butterfly. In India, we have seen thousands of sheep and goats, which habitually eat cotton crop residues, die after having ingested the residues of transgenic plants. Bt toxins, produced by GMO plants, affect the kidneys and liver of laboratory animals and human cell cultures. We have found residues of these toxins in the blood of pregnant women and the fetus, and in human breast milk.

The cultivation of transgenic plants which are resistant to herbicides allows the use of herbicides during the whole duration of cultivation, with four major risks, all duly substantiated: the disappearance of certain species of weeds valuable for ecological balance; the transmission of herbicides resistant to wild plants; the proliferation of weeds resistant to herbicides; and the transmission of herbicide residues into animal feed and the human food supply. The principal herbicide used, Roundup, is more and more suspected of having harmful effects on the male hormonal system, and being at the origin of congenital malformations and cancers. Of course, Roundup itself is not derived from a GMO, but its permanent use and its presence on comestible plants is made possible through its use on transgenic plants resistant to this herbicide.

Contamination by transgenic plants is multiplying. The pollen of transgenic plants has been found in honey and in hazelnut spread, which had to be destroyed. Organic fields have been contaminated by transgenic plants grown by neighbors. We have equally found transgenic plants around the port of Basel, in the Lugano train station, and near laboratories at the Universities of Basel, Lausanne and Zürich.

Transgenic traits migrate into wild plants, for example rapeseed in the Dakotas, with the risk of modifying ecological balance. In Mexico, the lifting of the moratorium on transgenic crops threatens the integrity of rare varieties of corn which constitute a valuable genetic pool for regeneration of cultivated corn through natural means. In order not to lose our sense of humor, let’s mention that farmers in Iowa complain about the leftovers of transgenic corn, more robust, piercing the tires of their tractors!

The population has reason to be wary of the use of GMOs. In fact, the potential risks for agriculture, the environment and health are difficult to evaluate. When in doubt, it’s better to abstain, more so because GMOs are useless and all progress in agricultural production can be attained through methods of natural selection.

* Philippe Roch, doctorate in bio-chemistry, is the author, with Jacques Neirynck, of « OGM, pour ou contre, le débat », éditions Jouvence, 2010

** References cites in this article may be found at  : http://www.blauen-institut.ch Gentech-news French

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